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Wednesday 22 November 2017

Three-quarters of voters to back children's poll

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

ALMOST three-quarters of voters are going to back the children's referendum -- with just three weeks to go to polling day.

A Red C opinion poll found that 74pc of people are going to vote Yes, with just 4pc planning to vote No.

It is the first clear assessment of public opinion ahead of polling day on Saturday, November 10 -- and will be a boost for the Yes campaign.

But 22pc of people are still undecided about how they will vote, and there is still a lack of awareness about what the children's referendum is about.

Around 61pc of people said they were either "not at all knowledgeable" or "not very knowledgeable" about it.

The National Youth Council of Ireland, which commissioned the Red C poll, said the level of voter knowledge and the number of undecided voters was a concern. Its deputy director, James Doorley, said there was no room for complacency, with over a fifth of voters undecided.

It came as another No group launched its campaign against the children's referendum.

The 'Two Rights' group is arguing that the State has failed to provide the free primary school education promised in the Constitution because schools have to run fundraisers and get donations from parents to survive financially.

Abuse

It is also complaining that it is still not possible for all children in the State to get a primary education which is free of religious instruction unless they stand out in the school corridor during religion classes. And it wants these "basic rights" to be implemented rather than having an "expensive referendum" costing up to €13m.

Its spokesman, John Colgan, said he was abused by a member of the Christian Brothers.

But Mr Colgan said more resources and a change in attitude were needed to protect children from abuse -- rather than changing the Constitution.

"Part of the problem has been the reluctance of the policing authorities to prosecute people, particularly people of status in society, and not to respect the views of children," he said.

Fine Gael TD Jim Daly, who is a foster parent, accused "Two Rights" of disregarding the plight of vulnerable children. He said that the public should listen to the views of groups such as Barnardos, who were working with vulnerable children every day.

"Would these groups -- such as Barnardos -- really support an amendment that would give the State too much power over the children they are trying to protect?" he asked.

Meanwhile, a man is seeking a High Court injunction over the use of state funds for the forthcoming referendum.

Mark McCrystal, an engineer of Kilbarrack Road, Dublin, claims the Government's own €1.1m information campaign is not neutral and is likely to promote a particular outcome .

Mr Justice Roderick Murphy granted Mr McCrystal permission to serve notice of his proceedings against the State.

Irish Independent

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